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Hornet tilapia, Tilapia buttikoferi (Description – distribution – feeding – reproduction) – Video

This video was taken at the Sea World, California, USA (June, 2012)

Introduction: Hornet tilapia, Tilapia buttikoferi, which belongs to the family Cichlidae is known by more common names such as Zebra tilapia and tiger tilapia.

Description Hornet tilapia has typical tilapia shape with vertical black color and several yellow stripping extending from the region to their eyes to the base of their tale. Zebra and tiger names have been given based on this pattern of stripping.  The vertical markings tend to fade as the fish grows older. These fish are long-lived cichlids as they can live up to 10-15 years. The hornet tilapia is considered a larger species of cichlids as they commonly grow up to 30-40 cm long. These fish are mid-level swimmers. In general, hornet tilapia is sorted as an aggressive fish species and this characteristic has to be considered when raising this species in aquaria; the species is best suited to mono-species tank. Despite their aggressive behavior they are still reasonably popular with aquarium owners who believe in the high intelligence of this fish.

Native distribution: Hornet tilapia are naturally found in the lower reaches of coastal West African rivers from Guinea-Bissau (Geba and Corubal Rivers) to west Liberia (St. John River) especially  in vegetation-choked rivers which have salinities that range from zero to almost sea salinity at their mouths. Because of aquarium trade, the species has been introduced outside its native range.

Feed habits: Hornet tilapias are similar to other cichlids in regard to their feeding habits. They are omnivores even though they prefer and benefit more from plant-based foods especially blanched vegetables such as lettuce or zucchini. In aquaria, they can be fed on variety of food depending on their age.

Reproduction: Hornet tilapia is a substrate spawner. Broodstock usually dig a hole in the substrate in which eggs are deposited. Both parents generally tend to take care about their eggs. Fry typically hatch in 4-5 days and will become free swimming in about 5 or 6 days.

References: Water Monsters, Total Fish Keeping, Fishbase, Exotic aquariums, Aqua-fish-net

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